An unexpected journey to the NHL

By Payton Robinson | March 29, 2024

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Belonging in the NHL isn’t just about goals scored, saves made, or who takes home the Stanley Cup; it’s about being part of a team, sharing talents and expertise, and contributing to shared success. A lot goes on behind the scenes of hockey to support what fans see on the ice, relying on a diverse range of creative, administrative, technological, and analytical skills.

Allison Ferley came to True North with “zero knowledge about hockey” but quickly became an integral teammate as part of the Marketing department.

Although she initially pursued an education in Interior Design at the University of Manitoba, Ferley found herself drawn to the graphic design field.

“My mom, a hardcore Jets fan, saw a job posting at True North and insisted I apply right out of university, convinced it would be a great opportunity for me.”

She got the job and was introduced to the dynamic environment of the sports and entertainment industry, immersing herself in various projects ranging from Winnipeg Jets gameday programs to concession menu designs where her attention to detail was paramount.

“The work here is fast-paced and so diverse. Every day is different and I absolutely love that.”

Ferley continued to expand her design portfolio, taking on new challenges, and eventually taking on the role of Creative Lead, Environmental Design. Here she had the chance to apply her university education to conceptualize and execute architectural drawings for small scale renovation projects at Canada Life Centre and the Burton Cummings Theatre, build scale models of True North venues, and design site maps for Winnipeg Jets Street Parties and other large-scale events. Among her personal highlights was redesigning the St. Vital Jets Gear storefront from drywall teardown to conceptualizing a full glass window display, handling lighting, wall details, wallpaper design and hanging banners.

“It was my first big public-facing construction project, where I knew that whatever I drew would actually be built. I was so nervous during the process but working with our Ops team was great, and seeing the final result was really validating for me.”

More than just a job, Ferley feels like she’s found at home as part of the True North team. It’s a sentiment that has only amplified, with the growing presence of female co-workers around her.

“With the addition of other women within the Creative Services team, at the director level, and within our greater Marketing team, I noticed I feel a lot more comfortable and supported by all the confident, competent women around me, whether directly or indirectly, and I feel more like I belong working in the NHL.”

Now in her tenth season with True North, Ferley has recently taken on a new leadership role as Creative Director, leading a team of six designers.

“My leadership style has evolved to prioritize collaboration and leveraging each team member’s strengths,” she explained “We’re a diverse group, blending seasoned designers with fresh talent, enabling us to tackle a wide array of projects.”

Ferley is excited about the team’s potential for growth, and her own growth in leading her team to push the creative envelope and evolve True North’s creative services.

“We are expanding our capabilities significantly, from traditional graphic design to encompassing motion graphics, illustration, and more,” she remarked. “I’m eager to witness our continued growth in the years to come.”

While it might not have been immediately obvious that the world of sports and entertainment was a fit for her skills and interests, it’s clear Ferley has found her niche with True North. Given her own unexpected journey, she encourages people to have an open mind about how their passions and skills can fit within the sports world.

“Don’t be afraid to pursue your interests and remind yourself to evaluate your true passions. Even if your path seems unconventional, embrace your strengths, work hard, and continuously improve your skills and someone will take a chance on you.”

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